Pawa in Tagakolu

"...inseparable connection as a tribal youth to their land..."

The first activity of the Indigenous Youth Leadership (IYL) program – Tagakolu curriculum was launched last month. The team took part in the “Pawa” in two pilot villages of Kangku and Kalatagan in Malita, Davao Occidental, last July 31 to August 3, 2015. “Pawa” is the Tagakolu term for farming.

“Pawa” starts with “pag-egba” where a ritual is offered to pay respect to “Tyumanem”, the Creator who owns the land that is lent to them. The ritual also symbolizes gratitude for the abundance of the harvest from the land. It is followed by “paggalas” or land clearing and the gathering of the trees and grass. The area is left to completely dry for 2-3 days and burned. The Tagakolu believes that the ashes are good natural fertilizer for the land. After that, they will offer one more ritual called “pag-indeg”, before the actual planting or “panggas”.

The activity served as a bridge for the Tagakolu youth to better understand their intimate and inseparable connection as a tribal youth to their land. They were able to appreciate the value of their land, community and hard work. Aside from that, the youth recognized the wisdom and knowledge that was imparted to them by their elders. The youth was appreciative that they were able to have a shared experience with other Tagakolu youth from different backgrounds. The whole community actively participated in the activity because it became a venue for both young and old to practice their indigenous way of farming.

Anjelyn Ansay from the village of Kangku shares: "Basa-basan ya lupa kay lekat asini ya migpatulin kanaten.” (Respect the land because everything that nurtures our life comes from here.)

Melissa Pagalangan added, “Dapat sanggilaen ya lupa, dili kalaten.” (It is a must to nurture the land, not to abuse it.)

Ban-ban a youth from the village of Kalatagan shares: “Migleya kay ang mga matikadeng naghatag sa ilang panahon aron kami matudloan sa pagpawa. Ug karon naa nako’ responsibilidad sa umaabot na henerasyon na mapasa ang akoang mga nakat-onan.” (I am happy that the elders gave their time so that we could learn the traditional way of farming. Now, I believe I have the responsibility to pass on what I have learned to future generations.)

*This story is written and documented by our partners in the Tagakolu community. This is their voice.

Tagakolu Traditional Birthing

Tagakolu traditional birthing affects women’s emotional wellbeing…

Family support is an important protective factor for childbearing women. This is what twenty-five youth leaders who attended the conversation on Tagakolu traditional birthing last September 18-20, 2015 in Kalatagan, Malita learned from their elders.

The conversation on traditional birthing is part of the Indigenous Youth Leadership (IYL) – Tagakolu curriculum. The youth in the community expressed that they wanted to learn how their "mananamok" (Tagakolu traditional birth attendant) prepares when a woman gives birth and to understand the process of traditional birthing.

According to the mananamok, when a woman is two months pregnant, this will be the time that the traditional birth attendant will attend to the needs of the expectant mother. There are elders who will lead a ritual called “magtagkas sa mangkalat”, a ritual against the spirits to leave the pregnant woman alone and to invoke the protection of “Tyumanem” or Creator. It is to let the bad spirits know that the child inside the womb is offered to the Creator. To attend to the needs of the expectant mother, the mananamok prepares the traditional medicines or “talagumo” so she will have a comfortable delivery.

Part of the conversation was a discussion on the ritual called “pagpalaba sa ise”, a welcome ceremony for the newly born, meaning after a week from birth the family will bring the child to the house of their relatives to pay a visit. They symbolically remove the “suksuk” or the bad elements and the relatives who welcomed the child will offer a gift or “taligsabo” for the child to treasure.

The village midwife shared: “Sa tradisyunal nga pagpanganak, nakita nako nga maayo kay naa gyud ang suporta sa “matikadeng” nga maoy mohatag ug kadasig sa manganakay” (In traditional birthing, one important factor is the support given by the elders to the expectant mother that gives her the courage to welcome the birth with all her being.)

Ate Carmelita: “Upat nako ka anak, sa balay lang gyud ko nanganak ug maayo kaayo ang akong pagpanganak kay giatiman man ko og pag-ayo sa mananamok ug sa akoang pamilya.” (I have four kids and all of them I gave birth in our home without complications because I was well attended by the mananamok and also my family.)

The youth were thankful that they had the opportunity to hear the positive stories of traditional birthing and more so to understand and appreciate the value of giving birth. They reflected that the Tagakolu traditional birthing affects the women’s emotional wellbeing and that family members, especially the husbands, have a big role and responsibility to their wives in this journey of giving life.